Monday, January 20, 2014

The Wind Blows

Last fall, I was at the famous Telluride Festival picnic (my film "Drunker Than a Skunk" screened before "Nebraska") and I was talking to a woman who worked at the New York Film Festival.  I had just learned that my new animated feature "Cheatin'" had been turned down, and Miyazaki's film "The Wind Rises" was selected.  I asked her why she chose the Miyazaki film and she said, "Because it's the last film he'll ever make."

I told her that Miyazaki always claims that each film will be his last. "No," she said, "this one definitely is his last."  Then, sure enough, in early January he announced he was coming out of retirement to make another feature film.

Damn!  He fooled us again!  I think he's used this ploy now five or six times!  The thing that gets me angry is that my film was entered in some very prominent festivals, and in three or four cases "The Wind Rises" was also entered, that his film got in and mine didn't. 

Both films were entered in festivals like Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York Film Festival, and the Hamptons Film Festival, and my guess is that the programmers all thought, "Wow, this is Miyazaki's farewell film, so we have to program it."  Then they looked at "Cheatin'" and thought, "It's a good film, but we already have an animated film in the line-up, so out it goes."

Now, of course this is just a theory - perhaps "Cheatin'" is not as good.  But I do know that festivals tend to be very stingy in programming animation, and you rarely see more that one animated feature per festival (unless it's an animation festival, of course...)

I tell you, Hayao has a real scam going, he's figured out how to play the game - tell everyone he's retiring, and his film is a festival lock.  I've seen "The Wind Rises", and I think it's one of his weakest films, very sentimental and pro-military.  It's certainly not one of his classics - but because he's the Japanese "Master" and he's retiring, he gets in on all the great festivals.

My friend Signe suggested I should learn from him how to play the game.  I think for my next film I'm going to "retire" right after I finish production - or how about "dying" right after the production, so it will truly seem like my last film.  Then I'll perform a miracle and magically appear at the festival, reborn - imagine the publicity I can generate from that scandal!


1 comment:

  1. First of all, the coming back out of retirement is still just a rumor. It might not be true.

    I think you're going on the wrong crusade here. I doubt Miyazaki's concerned with which festivals will play his films and is constantly scheming to get them selected. He's a man still very passionate about animation at his age, not willing to retire while he can still create... Just like you. We can all be thankful for both your spirits.

    Maybe you didn't like this particular movie, but plenty of people did, and his work IS a big draw. There's enough good reasons for a festival to program the film besides 'it's his last one'.

    You say it yourself: "But I do know that festivals tend to be very stingy in programming animation, and you rarely see more that one animated feature per festival". You should be fighting the festivals. Maybe you dare not to attack them, being afraid they won't select your future work if you don't suck up to them. But why go easy on them and attack a kindred spirit instead?